What is the Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diet
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is characterized by cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. Many people with irritable bowel syndrome find that eating aggravates their symptoms of discomfort. It can even cause more abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, and bloating.
There is some good news for sufferers of IBS. Doctors have found that making adjustments to the diet can relieve some of these feelings of discomfort.
How the Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diet Works
Sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome should limit or eliminate foods such as milk, alcohol, caffeine, any foods high in sugar or fat, and gas producing foods such as beans, cabbage or broccoli. Even artificial sweeteners like sorbitol and xylitol have been shown to increase the symptoms of IBS. These sweeteners are often used in sugarless gums and candies.
These foods should be avoided because they are all in the food categories labeled GI stimulants or irritants, which can cause violent reactions of your gastrocolic reflex. This directly affects the muscles in your colon and can lead to IBS pain, constipation and diarrhea, gas, and bloating.
Also, anyone suffering from IBS should add fiber to their diets. However, too much insoluble fiber can aggravate IBS, so the diet suggests that followers stick to foods higher in soluble fiber. Foods high in soluble fiber are those such as plums, citrus fruits, pears, prunes, psyllium seeds, oatmeal, carrots, lentils, and peas.
Increasing soluble fiber will help increase the ‘good' bacteria in your body. This increase in soluble fiber will also help to alleviate constipation and ward off diarrhea. Supplementing your diet with flaxseed can also help. However, it is important to drink more water while adding fiber to the diet as drinking more water has also been shown to help reduce the pain of IBS.
Regular exercise is also prescribed in this ‘diet.' Doctors also suggest keeping a food diary to write down what foods you have ingested so that you will know which foods are the biggest offenders, as each body is different. It is also important for sufferers of IBS to eat slowly, and preferably, in a calm, relaxing environment.
What Experts Say about the Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diet
There are many experts that have weighed in on the IBS diet. While there is not a particular ‘diet' plan for irritable bowel syndrome, eating the right foods to help prevent pain and suffering from this condition is important.
Experts say that cutting back on carbohydrates may be the answer to eliminating some of the pain of IBS. Heather Van Vorous, an expert on IBS with her own IBS cooking show and several IBS cookbooks, stresses how important it is to eat a proper diet to help alleviate IBS discomfort. She says that the proper Irritable Bowel Syndrome diet can make a world of difference for anyone with IBS.
Sophie Lee, a leading expert on IBS, says that looking at your diet is one of the best things you can do to combat the pain of IBS. She also recommends the diet, and recommends Heather Van Vorous cookbooks when adding soluble fiber into your diet. “This diet has helped a huge number of people tackle their IBS, and is based on using soluble fiber to soothe the gut. Heather clearly describes the diet and provides some lists of safe and unsafe foods in her book Eating for IBS.”
Sample Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diet Meal Plan
The following meal ideas are taken from Heather Van Vorous's irritable bowel syndrome cookbooks. It is important to note that the meal plan does not designate eating a certain amount of calories or meals per day, just the foods included, or not included, in each meal.
- Maple French Toast (made with soy or rice milk)
- Turkey Burger
- Roasted Fish and Vegetables
- Peach Mango Sorbet